I love romantic suspense, so “secrets and lies” was a perfect prompt for me. I went digging through my category romances and came up with one that has a rather unusual twist. I’ve dealt with books that have big secrets or people living double lives, but could your whole life be a lie without you realizing it? That’s the premise of Dangerous Deception.
Rachel Garrett appears content with her life in small town Oregon. She works at a coffee shop in Sleepy Cove. It’s the kind of town where everyone seems to know everyone – and Rachel’s friends are all loyal and protective of her. Rachel suffered a terrible car accident some months prior to the main action of the story, but her friends have helped her get back on her feet.
Rachel’s peace is interrupted by a mysterious man she has seen standing outside and watching the coffee shop. One day he is able to speak to her, and tells her that her entire life is a lie. He calls her by another name and tells her that everything she thinks she knows about her past is completely made up. This part of the story drew me right in because Rachel’s uneasiness over this stranger’s claims felt very real. Like most people, she felt sure of who she was but she also can’t help being curious. And because she’s curious, she starts digging.
The book starts off strong. While there are some things about Rachel’s life that feel a little bit off, the story is full of believable details about her backstory. Rachel has a cozy apartment, with a few mementos of her earlier life, such as her childhood Bible. Sure, Rachel’s boss and BFF seems a little overprotective, but then again, Rachel lost her parents as a child and she herself had a bad car accident some time ago. Her life seems to make sense and yet she cannot help but want to figure out what is going on with this mysterious Michael Sullivan who keeps telling her that he thinks she is someone else.
After the opening chapters, the action in this book starts to pick up. The author throws in clues about what might be going on and I did guess at parts of the story, but she does do a good job of doling out hints gradually throughout the book. The evil plotting is a bit far fetched, but it was interesting reading, and I largely enjoyed myself.
This book is published by Harlequin’s inspirational line, although the religious content in this one is fairly light. Mention is made of the heroine having an old childhood Bible and there are a few instances where she prays when she is in danger. However, this is not a novel I would describe as preachy.
While I enjoyed the suspense plotting in this novel, it’s a little light on the romance. There’s a little bit of insta-love going on here, and the romance feels somewhat rushed. On the one hand, one can completely understand why Rachel initially feels wary around Michael. When you’re trying to figure out if some or all of your life is a big, elaborate scam, that understandably messes with your ability to relate to other people. However, the mutual discovery by both parties that they really do love each other does seem to just burst into being and it makes the ending of the story feel somewhat abrupt.
Dangerous Deception is an unusual suspense read, and a nice change from the paramilitary units, police dogs and other mainstays of recent romantic suspense novels. This almost gothic tale of secrets and buried truths made for an interesting afternoon of reading, though I do wish that the romance had been fleshed out a bit more.